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Ronnie Polaneczky of the Philadelphia Daily News receives $75,000 Pulliam Fellowship for Editorial Writing




Todd Gillman, Pulliam Editorial Fellowship Selection Chairman, (202) 661-8421, tgillman@dallasnews.com
Maggie LaMar, SPJ Communications Coordinator, (317) 920-4785, mlamar@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS ---Ronnie Polaneczky of the Philadelphia Daily News has been chosen for the 2015 Pulliam Editorial Fellowship. The $75,000 fellowship is awarded annually by the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation.

Polaneczky, a columnist, plans to dig deep on the topic of intellectually challenged adults, a hidden population whose enormous needs too often are neglected. She became interested in the topic when she learned of a 37-year-old woman last seen alive at a downtown department store. A state-paid caretaker lost track of her, and this “terribly vulnerable woman-child” was found dead, half-naked and frozen, five miles away.

The judges were impressed by the passion and critical thought Polaneczky has already brought to bear on the topic. And they were intrigued by a plan that includes not only advocacy journalism but envisions a summit and other efforts to raise awareness and spur much needed progress in the protection of needy adults.

“When you find something that really tugs at the heartstrings and also cries out for a policy prescription, that’s a winning combination. And when paired with someone who has passion for the topic and the skills to pull it off, which Ronnie clearly does, this is a winner we can be proud of,” said Todd Gillman, chairman of the judging panel, Washington Bureau Chief of The Dallas Morning News and a former president of the SDX Foundation.

Other judges were Jay Evensen, an SDX Foundation director and Senior Editorial Columnist at the Deseret News; David Haynes, president of the Association of Opinion Journalists and editorial page editor of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel; and Farah Stockman, a Boston Globe columnist who won the 2014 Pulliam Fellowship.

“I like the human dimension. She really brought out the humanity of a family that most people wouldn’t otherwise pay any attention to,” Stockman said.

“She’s bringing light to a problem that is little understood and little acknowledged in the country,” Evenson said. “There’s a real problem with these people as they age and they need continual care and there’s no one there to provide it.”

Polaneczky’s body of work suggests she can deliver, the judges said.

“She knows how to do this kind of project and find the sources and dig deep, below the surface. This could be terrific. It’s an underreported problem,” said Haynes.

Click here to learn more about the award and see a list of previous winners.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information on SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.


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